Making a Complaint
The University has introduced a specific complaints procedure for complaints relating to industrial action for the 2022/23 Academic Year. If you wish to make a complaint, you should do so using the Industrial Action Complaints Procedure. The University has stated that the deadline to complain on the basis of industrial action for the academic year 2022/23, and any impact on you up until this date, is the 14th August 2023. This is important to note, as it is our understanding that the University appreciate that if you are missing marks, you are unlikely to know the full impact until the point of receiving your complete transcript. On this basis, we recommend that you should start and submit a complaint by the deadline of the 14th August 2023, it is our understanding that the University will accept new information after this date to explain the impact on you since.
Student A received a transcript with missing marks, and feels they were significantly affected by the days of industrial action in December 2022, and now their delayed results. Student A wants to submit a complaint, but doesn't know when to do it.
Our advice for Student A is to submit their complaint now, prior to the 14th August deadline, detailing the impact upon them of the days of industrial action in December 2022 (where perhaps they missed teaching time), and the delay in their results.
Once they have received their completed transcript, whether this is before or after the 14th August 2023, we understand that the University would consider this new information and so our advice would be to submit the new information, explaining clearly how they have been impacted and affected since the submission of the complaint pre-14th August. This might include loss of earnings, or distress and inconvenience, as explained below.
Neither the University Complaints Procedure nor the Industrial Action Complaints Procedure can provide the opportunity to challenge an academic decision taken by an Examining Board. If you wish to challenge or change your results, you should submit an academic appeal under the Academic Appeals Procedure. You can submit both a complaint and an appeal should you wish to.
Making a Complaint
There is a specific University complaints procedure for complaints related to Industrial Action. The procedure is intended for use if you feel you have suffered a detriment, dissatisfaction or disadvantage as a result of disruption caused by industrial action. The University states:
"The deadline for submitting a student complaint about industrial action has been extended to 14 August 2023. This is the deadline for you to start a complaint about the impact of industrial action in 2022-23 including if you have been impacted by missing grades on your transcript.
If you are studying on a programme with a February/March start, you must start your complaint within 28 days of the email sending your transcript for your studies in the 2023-24 academic year."
You may not be able to fully assess the impact of industrial action and the Marking and Assessment boycott if you have yet to receive your missing mark(s). If this is the case, we would suggest submitting a complaint by the deadline stating that you cannot assess the full impact because you have yet to receive a complete transcript and do not know when you will do so. As such, you may wish to state that you reserve the right to send further information relating to the impact of the industrial action at a later date.
If you have missed the deadline to submit a complaint, you may still do so, but you will need to explain why you could not submit a complaint before the deadline. We can offer further advice relating to this if needed.
The OIA's Good Practice Framework, Case Summaries and Guidance may be useful in writing and structuring any complaint you wish to make. You can find these documents here.
In order to complain, we would recommend you:
1. Read the Industrial Action Complaint Procedure;
2. Complete the Industrial Action Student Complaint Form, and;
3. Email your completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org .
You should submit appropriate evidence with your complaint, such as:
· Module information you have received to highlight any content not delivered/supported;
· Your teaching timetable to highlight the number of teaching sessions missed;
· Relevant emails/correspondence with academic staff, and;
· Evidence of any additional learning needs, disabilities, mental health conditions or other relevant circumstances.
You may be able to claim compensation as a result of the industrial action where you can successfully argue that the University has failed to:
· Ensure you have met the learning outcomes of your programme of study;
· Minimise the impact of industrial action on your academic interests, and/or;
· Effectively minimise the distress and inconvenience arising from the industrial action.
The University has an obligation to minimise the impact of the industrial action on students and take sufficient steps to ‘make up for’ a students’ missed learning opportunities. If a considerable amount of teaching time has been cancelled, and the learning outcomes for the modules couldn’t have been delivered in full, students can ask for compensation. The OIA has said that ‘most students do not study with higher education provides purely to gain a qualification. Other things are important to them too, such as attending lectures and seminars led by academics’.
The first step in claiming compensation is to submit a complaint under the Industrial Action Complaints Procedure, detailed above.
The OIA is a guiding authority in Industrial Action Compensation cases and it may be interesting for you to read the case summaries of similar cases to yours on the OIA website: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/resources-and-publications/case-summaries/
You can find further information about claiming compensation on our Industrial Action Disruption: Claiming Compensation webpage here.
Distress and Inconvenience
You may be able to claim compensation from the University for distress and inconvenience caused to you by the industrial action.
The OIA publish guidance on quantifying distress and inconvenience, in the form of Moderate, Substantial or Severe.
|Level of distress and inconvenience
||Up to £500
||Between £501 and £2,000
||Between £2,001 and £5,000
The OIA may recommend payments over £5000 in exceptional circumstances. The below information, taken from the OIA's website here, may be useful for you in deciding which band your circumstances may apply to.
- The provider has done or failed to do something which has caused some distress and inconvenience in the short term (e.g. less than 6 months).
- Minor maladministration, mishandling or unreasonable handling of a complaint by the provider which has caused additional unnecessary distress and inconvenience.
- Unreasonable or avoidable substantial delays (e.g. over 6 months) which caused some distress and inconvenience.
- Moderate delays (i.e. less than 6 months) or other procedural irregularities where there is evidence to suggest the student suffered actual disadvantage.
- The provider’s decision was unreasonable, there was no direct academic consequence for the student, but it caused some distress and inconvenience.
- The provider has done or failed to do something which caused some distress and inconvenience in the long term (e.g. more than 6 months).
- Procedural flaws which caused inconvenience and distress but did not affect the outcome.
- Evidence of circumstances giving rise to a reasonable perception of bias during the internal procedures.
- Substantial maladministration which disadvantaged the student.
- Substantial mishandling of a complaint which resulted in or caused unreasonable or avoidable substantial delay (e.g. over 6 months) and where the delay disadvantaged the student.
- The provider’s decision was unreasonable, there is no direct academic consequence for the student, but it caused substantial distress and inconvenience.
- The provider has not properly considered its responsibilities under relevant equalities legislation or has not followed relevant guidance.
- The provider’s decision in respect of the substantive element of the complaint was unreasonable and resulted in severe distress and inconvenience.
- Procedural flaws which, if they had not occurred, may have resulted in a different outcome.
- Cogent and contemporaneous evidence to suggest that the student suffered from ill health because of something the provider did or failed to do.
- Major maladministration, procedural flaws, delays or other breaches of natural justice in a provider’s internal process that disadvantaged the student.
- Serious interference or bias during the provider’s internal consideration of a complaint or appeal.
- Serious and unexplained delays leading to injustice.
- Where the student has been seriously disadvantaged but a practical remedy is inappropriate or impossible.
What about 'actual loss'?
Actual loss refers to where you've lost money as a result of something - so, for example, if the missing marks as a result of industrial action meant you needed to spend £100 on a hotel in Cardiff for a resit assessment during the summer when it then transpires it wasn't necessary for you to resit the assessment at all on receipt of your completed transcript, you might wish to claim this as an actual loss. This can be applied to numerous situations, and is worth considering alongside distress and inconvenience where you might be out of pocket as a result, or have missed out on something because of the industrial action. It is up to you to decide what that might be - contact us for more advice.
Handling a Complaint
When you have submitted your complaint the University has said that it will deal with all complaints sensitively, fairly, proportionately and promptly.
Upon receipt of a complaint the University will appoint an investigating officer to gather information and evidence, including any information communicated from the Head of School. The officer will recommend an outcome to the complaint, supported by relevant evidence. The following decisions are available:
· Complaint not eligible to be considered under the procedure and advice provided;
· Complaint not justified, or;
· Complaint justified, or partially justified, and a remedy provided.
You will receive a decision letter detailing:
· The decision;
· A clear explanation of the decision and, if appropriate, any remedy provided;
· What support is available to you, and;
· Information on how to take the complaint to the University Review Stage if you are dissatisfied with the decision.